Imagine a scene for a minute. A few kids are playing at the park. One kid keeps having some big feelings, maybe arguing with the others, raising their voice, and overall having a tough time. Their parent is nearby says “do you want to go home?”. What do you picture? Maybe, like me, you usually imagine the parent saying it in a frustrated tone. It may have a thinly veiled tone of threat, sending the message “I will make you go home if you don’t stop”.
This is not an uncommon scene at all. In fact, something happened around here today. Being in public when your child is having some problems isn’t easy. You feel the pressure of the people around you watching. The pressure to be “a good parent”, whatever that means. Maybe even the pressure to attempt to control their behavior to make or more socially acceptable. I will admit that these thoughts still cross my mind.
However, I’m trying to reimagine those same words. “Do you want to go home?”. I see it in a different light. Not a threat. Instead, it’s an offer. An offer to help someone leave a situation that isn’t meeting their needs. A check in to see if they are hungry, thirsty, or in need of connecting. An invitation to partner with them in changing the environment to set them up for success.
“Yes, I want to leave”, my child answers. She knows she isn’t being threatened, she’s simply being asked. No undertones, no veiled threat. I put aside the internal thoughts and offered help. This time i remembered to breathe first, see behavior as communication, and remember that leaving a difficult situation shouldn’t be a punishment.